“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.
Today, we are thrilled to welcome Alethea Kontis to the blog to talk about her writerly inspirations! Alethea is the author of the charming YA Fantasy/Fairy Tale retelling Enchanted (stick around later today as Thea reviews the book).
Please give a warm welcome to Alethea, folks!
I’ve always loved fairy tales, but my childhood dream was never to be a princess. Princesses always seemed too passive, too precious, too perfect. As a rough-and-tumble tomboy, I was lamentably far from having any of those qualities.
Instead I pretended to be a nomadic fairy tale gypsy, dancing through the woods clad in my mother’s flowing hippie skirts and speaking in accents that drove my little sister crazy. If I was very observant and considerably lucky, perhaps I’d glimpse a unicorn in the Wood one day, or meet a fairy at a well and have the opportunity to fetch water for her and reap a substantial magical reward.
I acted like fairy tales were my own personal history, that I had descended from these magical people and had the potential to see amazing things and go on magical adventures. One day, I would star in a fairy tale of my own. I would be captured by a witch or a dragon, use my smarts to trick my way out of trouble, or meet my soulmate, the person the universe had chosen with whom I was to live happily ever after until the end of time–whatever that meant. My story would be told around the dinner table or around the fire, like my dad told stories of his aunts and uncles. The day I became my own story had always been the measure of my success.
I was never a big fan of reality. Dad’s stories were about extraordinary people in our family who did real things. What did *I* do? I made good grades, lived in a big house on a lake, read a lot of books, and watched a lot of television. My parents weren’t divorced, and I didn’t hail from the wrong side of the tracks. Apart from the typical issues most daughters have with their mothers and sisters, I had a pretty good life Dull, even. Sure, it was a Norman Rockwell painting at times, but even a picture’s only worth a thousand words, and that’s nowhere near enough for a novel.
During my school years I was bored a lot, as many gifted kids are. Dad was always away on business, so I looked to Mom for advice on what to do with my free time. The school plays were my idea, but the fairy tales were hers. I was literally sitting at her feet one very long afternoon, and I asked her what I should do with myself. “Go write me a fairy tale,” she said. “A new one.”
This was a spectacular challenge. There were so many fairy stories out there–how did a person ever come up with new ones? I struggled with this concept for a very long time, only eking out about five stories in as many years. Apart from “Butt in Chair,” it was the tallest mountain I ever set out to climb.
But climb it I did, and the more I wrote, the easier the stories were to tell. I–for lack of a better word–learned how to steal without stealing, to pay tribute instead of plagiarizing. I drew from those fairy stories, as well as my education and experience, and eventually the lines between reality and fantasy began to blur. I wrote my new fairy tale into a novel, and they called it ENCHANTED.
The more the lines blurred, the more I began to find magic in the everyday world, and I realized that I wasn’t so boring after all. I called myself a Princess almost as a joke, and the title was embraced so quickly and enthusiastically by my friends that by the time I considered taking the tiara off, it was already too late. My loyal courtiers and champions rallied behind me, and once appointed I had no business shirking my responsibilities. Like the all-too-clever peasant girl in the Grimms’ tales, I had no choice but to embrace the mantle of princesshood, and all that entailed.
But I will never forget my wild, woods-born roots. And I will always be listening to see if there are tales about me being told around campfires and dinner tables. After all, those are where the real stories come from.
Thank you, Alethea! You can read more about the author on her website. Make sure to stick around as later today we review Enchanted!